FBMR - Paycheck
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

PAYCHECK (2003) **1/2

I suppose I expected a little too much from this movie, I bought into the hype a little too much. The movie was all right, but didn’t live up to my expectations. Should I see it again, I may like it better.

Directed by John Woo, I was disappointed when it didn’t live up to FACE/OFF or even M: I-2. There was only a hint of his signature slow-motion, and it was in places where I didn’t find it necessary. It reminded me a little bit more of Woo’s first Hollywood project, the unfortunate HARD TARGET. Woo is really an action film director, and although this film had some action, I wouldn’t classify it as an action film. There was a motorcycle chase, a couple of gun battles, and a few explosions, but I thought there was going to be more.

Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a reverse engineer. He takes things that are already made, takes them apart, finds out how they work, and then is contracted to make the product better, thus making the competition inferior. Once finished on the project, for the company’s protection, they erase the isolated memories from the last few months. After completing a three year and hopefully his final contract he realizes that he turned down his multi-million dollar paycheck in lieu of 19 everyday items (sunglasses, cigarettes, a paperclip, etc … ). Very confused, since he can’t remember why he would do such a thing, these 19 items become tools to help him understand why he would do such a thing.

I think I may have been misled by this summary myself, thinking is would be a taut, thriller/mystery … but it ends up being more of a cat-and-mouse movie. It’s not bad, but not spectacular either.